As author Stan Swanson clearly notes in an opening quotation for this book, “The Universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper” (Eden Phillpotts, English science-fiction writer). With Hobart Hucklebuck leading the way, children should find their imaginations going full tilt – and enjoying the experiences immensely!
The basic plot? Things aren’t going well in the town of Pennywhistle. The magic is simply not working predictably and vexing accidents keep happening (example: bread no longer jumps into the toaster on command) and Hobart Hucklebuck, age 12, is finding his usual world more and more perplexing. Even worse, Hobart’s grandfather may be in danger and being set up as a possible suspect by someone. But who? And why?
As Hobart and his friends try to solve the mystery, young readers’ hearts will race and they’ll be eager to finish this one. I’d consider this an excellent choice for any youngster able to handle Chapter books and it isn’t overly long either. Chapter titles are very creative, as is the entire book. For those who feel they MUST throw in a little education along with a good read, you’ll find plenty of examples of alliteration in this one (Great Gobs of Gollygobber is one example) as well as a unique writing style. There is also humor and wonderful characters.
For those too young to handle Harry Potter, this is an excellent alternative, just the thing to spark young imaginations and provide a rollicking fun time as well.
K. Corn (Amazon)
A few pages in to this book I suspected it was just going to be a precious extended variation on Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, with lots of magic shops, enchantments, twee characters, cutesy names and too-clever magic spells. Well, please just excuse me for being a sourpuss, because this book pulls itself together in short order and ends up being a rousing delight.
Hobart is introduced to us as a bit of a lump – maybe a bit lazy, scared of cats, lacking in apparent magical skills. Within a few pages that approach is dropped and within a few chapters Hobart has become interesting, motivated and resourceful. He is also curious, alert and observant. He becomes a hero one wants to follow. His pals Specks and Rosie come on stage and then we have an engaging team, with each character contributing to the story.
The plot is interesting, but easy enough for a youngster to follow. Enchantments are failing and magical objects are misbehaving and some bad guy is behind it all. Hobart’s grandfather is falsely accused of being the perpetrator, which adds immediacy to Hobart’s quest to find the real bad guys. And so we are off on our magical mystery tour.
The super bonus is that this isn’t all wands and spells and action. There are some touching moments here, mostly anchored by Hobart’s relationship to his grandfather, who is a supremely accomplished magician and enchanter. Grandfather Wicksford isn’t a main character but his influence is felt all through the book, (sort of like a Yoda or Gandalf kind of figure). And some of their conversations are truly memorable. Hobart admires his grandfather and Grandfather Wicksford loves and protects Hobart and their dynamic adds a dimension to the tale that transports it beyond the typical and expected magical adventure.
To give you an idea, and to not be overly long about it, at one quiet point early on Wicksford explains the difference between magic and enchantment to Hobart. Magic is a pure, elemental power that can create things of beauty and power. Enchantments just make things work, like the enchantments that are laid on brooms and shovels when they are manufactured. As Wicksford explains, one might understand geometry but not algebra, because they are different even though they are both mathematics. That just strikes me as elegant and illustrates the extra dimension beyond wand waving that you get in this book.
So, exciting, fun, funny, well written, touching, and very thoughtfully and carefully crafted – so, so much more than expected and very satisfying.
Pop Bop (Amazon)
Stan is a great writer. This book was a joy to read. I couldn’t put it down. I love the characters and the world that Stan created. It has some great twists and turns. Middle-grade genre readers will really love this book. I recommend that it be added to your TBR list. I look forward to reading more of Stan’s books.
Diane Riggins (A Creative Mind)
When I first started reading Hobart Hucklebuck the first thing that really came to my mind was all of the alliteration. Hobart Hucklebuck, Rosie Rumpleskirt, and Specks Spacklethack are just some of the names with alliteration. Every name, from the food to the cat breeds, are in alliteration. It was fun seeing all of the interesting new words to come from that and it definitely shows creativity. I don’t know how someone is able to think of so many alliterations, but somehow Mr. Swanson was able to do that.
The story is fast paced and filled with humor. I could see the children working towards saving Hobart’s grandfather and getting themselves into trouble in the process. The way I would describe this book is a very light hearted fantasy with children showing gumption, but still being kids. It reminds me a bit of the first Harry Potter film. The film was a bit kiddie and had all the elements of a good children’s movie. Of course, that series went darker, but I don’t see Hobart’s world of magic going darker than it already is.
The magic is interesting, but doesn’t have much explained. There is enough explained to give the reader hints at what will happen in the conclusion, but nothing in the sense of this spell does this or this spell does that. However, the fact that magic isn’t explained is explained. The children are still too young to really delve into the magical arts and there are a lot of politics going on that could prevent further magic using. I like that Swanson had added adult elements so that parents could enjoy the book with their children or the children won’t be left feeling too young. Children know what is going on in the world and Swanson shows that by having his characters know things are happening, but they just don’t know why.
This is a fun book for both adults and children. I very much enjoyed it.
Casia Courtier (60 Seconds or More)
Having been given the opportunity to read a copy of this book, I found the cover to be quite intriguing and was quite happy to be able to read an advance copy of this.
The setting of the book was one that worked really well, in my opinion. I liked the reliance on enchanted objects throughout the course of the book, though I felt that the world wasn’t explored as much as it could have been. I was uncertain about whether this was set in a parallel world to Earth, or just its own fantasy world altogether.
The technology (or enchanted items) in this book was quite cool, though I would have liked to see more of the history behind them. I also liked learning about the differences between the ordinary magic and the enchanted items. I would have liked to see a bit more of that.
The characters in this book were really well-written, I felt. Even Pick came across as a more well-rounded character than how he’d first appeared. I found it really easy to empathize with Hobart as a character and I particularly liked that he had his own likes and dislikes… though I don’t understand how people can’t like cats. (Well, until I remember my friend’s new kitten who’s scratched up my legs…)
I felt the mystery around this book worked really well, too. I would have liked a few more red herrings and to learn a bit more about the other characters, but this book was a simple, uncomplicated read that was really easy and quick.
I think this is a good book for younger readers. It’s a creative world with engaging, young characters who I found easy to relate to. I’d probably check out a sequel to this book some time in the future.
Sarah (Ink of Blood)
Magic and enchantment are everywhere in the town of Pennywhistle. Unfortunately, something is going wrong with enchanted devices. Toasters refuse to toast, bread refuses to jump into the toaster, and salt and pepper shakers refuse to shake. The situation is becoming very serious.
Twelve-year-old Hobart Hucklebuck is staying with Grandfather Wicksford Waxenbee while his parents are off on an expedition. We quickly learn that Hobart likes being with his grandfather, but he does not like the chores that he has to do. Though Hobart grumbles about his chores, most of them are easy to do with the help of enchanted objects. At least, chores are normally easy to do. It seems that enchanted devices have lost interest in doing what they are supposed to do, and Hobart is confused and annoyed by the disruption to his life.
The behavior of enchanted devices has also gained the attention of Pernacious Pratfall, the head of the Bureau of Magical Abuse and Misuse. Pratfall believes that Wicksford Waxenbee is responsible for the problems with enchanted devices. Pratfall eventually arrests Waxenbee, who is tried, convicted and sent to the Tower of Tribulation. Hobart has faith that his grandfather is not guilty, but how can he prove his grandfather’s innocence?
It is always good to have friends, and Hobart’s friends Specks Spacklethack and Rosie Rumpleskirt are convinced that Waxenbee is innocent. They join Hobart in seeking evidence and the truth. The novice detectives make a list of suspects and begin nosing around, which can be dangerous in a magic town. The list of suspects only seems to grow and there is little evidence that any of the suspects is guilty until Hobart gets help from the most unlikely of allies.
The end of this story is exciting and enjoyable. I was pleased that Stan provided some serious moments in his story, which has a lot of humor in it. I can see the ending might even be a little scary for very young readers, but the scare factor is manageable and makes the ending even more fun to read.
The problem with being an adult reading stories meant for children is that my perceptions are different from a child’s. I found the constant alliteration annoying initially. Eventually I became accustomed to the alliteration and even started to like it, but it took a while. On the other hand, children seem to enjoy alliteration, so the frequent use of alliteration would probably be fun for most children in the target age range of 9 to 12 years old.
I also suspect that children 7 or 8 years old would probably enjoy this story as well, and the words Stan uses would be an interesting challenge
As for the story and the writing, the story grew on me and I was unable to put the book down in the final chapters. Swanson’s story captured me and I was both happy to get the answers to my questions at the end of the story and sad that it was over. I look forward to the next entry in the saga of Hobart Hucklebuck and his friends.
Fans of children’s fantasy and children not quite ready for Harry Potter but wanting to read a fantasy novel will find “The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck” to be an interesting and enjoyable addition to their collection of fantasy books. I think most readers will be longing for the next entry in the series.
Lonnie Holder (Amazon)
I think almost everyone (except the always graceful and talented–not most of us) can identify with the hapless youngster Hobart HUCKLEBUCK. Some readers will shiveringly resonate to poor Hobart’s ailurophobia (terror of cats) and others with his ready distraction and clumsiness. Middle grade and upper elementary readers will surely delight: girls in the magical environment, boys in his adventures and the silly names of people and objects. Altogether, Hobart’s misadventures are winners.
Mallory Anne-Marie Forbes (Mallory Heart Reviews)
With “The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck,” Stan Swanson opens up a whole new fantasy world to youngsters who aren’t quite old enough for Harry Potter or “A Wrinkle In Time.” In this tale, we find young Hobart troubled with recent events in the little town of Pennywhistle. Enchanted items just aren’t as enchanted as they used to be. Toasters won’t toast, clocks are going haywire and life is generally just abnormal. The stores on Druid Lane have been forced to close until a culprit in the matter is found. Eventually Hobart’s grandfather, Wicksford Waxenbee, is accused and found guilty of the crimes and is placed into a cell in the Tower of Tribulation on Mumblemonk mountain. With his friends Specks and Rosie, and the family store clerk/apparition called Tumbletoes, Hobart sets out to see who or what is causing all of the chaos in Pennywhistle and hopefully prove his grandfather’s innocence.
The story moves briskly along and has plenty of action and comedy for younger readers. Many of the characters are intentionally over-the-top. With names like Mortimer Moosefeather, Pernacious Prattfall, Delphenia Dragonwart and Beauregard Bladderblott, you’d expect them to be just that. My favorite character is the aforementioned Tumbletoes. Swanson develops the key characters vividly and makes the reader look forward to what happens next.
Swanson knows his audience very well and will most likely attract the bulk of his readership from the nine to twelve year-old demographic. Comparisons to Harry Potter (and possibly Encyclopedia Brown) are inevitable, but it appears that Swanson has no plans on invading J.K. Rowling’s territory. He’s merely setting up a whole new generation of readers for fantasies such as the Potter series, Madeleine L’Engle’s wonderful books and the “Narnia” books as well.
If you are a pre-teen or have one in your family who enjoys fantasy tales, pick up this book. It’s funny and packed with just enough action to trigger the reading bug in any youngster. I highly recommend this book.
Keith Fontenot (Amazon)
I know so many children to whom I am going to recommend this book. The author’s descriptions and attention to detail allow readers to learn about the inhabitants of Pennywhistle and see inside the shops on Druid Lane. It’s misadventure mixed with merriment and mystery. Stan Swanson brings humor into the story from page one and the funny moments in this book make what is already a page-turner of a book even better.
Tanya Boudreau (Curled Up With A Good Book)
What a fun read! Stan Swanson has spun a clever, imaginative tale in a fantastical world that is at the same time marvelously grounded in human relationships that young readers will identify with. From his disheveled red hair to his cat phobia, Hobart Hucklebuck is a memorable main character who possesses an ‘every kid’ quality that makes it easy to root for him as he uses his clumsy magic to seek the truth and fight a frightening villain. The Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck will keep readers captivated through the final page and voracious for more.
Jenni Hadden (Freelance Writer/Editor)
I really enjoyed this fun and thrilling story. Fast paced and flow is wonderful. I enjoyed the whimsical writing in this book it reminded me of how Willy Wonka(Gene Wilder) talked in the movie. (I have never read the book) it was very amusing and had me giggling at the names of items and people. The story was good too Hobart tries to prove his grandfather’s innocents, and find out why enchanted items are not working. The author also makes us look at how dependent people are on enchanted items just like we are dependent on electronic items now. I am buying this book for my daughter. I thought it was fun and fast read with wonderful characters and amazing moral lessons and family values .
Karen (Broad-Minded Books)
Hobart Hucklebuck lives in a world where objects do what they are told, creatures live and work down the street, and magic is practiced in the open. Magic is appreciated and an everyday part of life. But when bread stops listening, clocks stop telling time, and other enchanted items stop doing as they are told the world that Hobart lives in is thrown into disarray. No one knows what’s happening and now everyone is a suspect, even Hobart’s very own grandfather.
Hobart and his friends don’t believe Hobart’s grandfather, Wicksford is guilty and set out to find out the true guilty party.
Hobart is the grandson of a very powerful and talented mage, but seems rather untalented in the realm of magic himself. Throughout the tale Hobart’s attempts at magic are embarrassing and at times close to disastrous. Him and his friends are misfits and make the perfect team to solve the mystery of the unenchanting items.
As they search for the culprit they know is in their midst, the band of friends find themselves in some very sticky situations with not a clue how to move forward. Everyone is a suspect and yet no one seems guilty. With one mistaken step Hobart stumbles upon the truth behind the magic draining items and the truth is shocking. It is a blow for Hobart and the entire community of Druid Lane.
Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck is a fun tale full of silly words and enchanting everyday items, that enchant the reader as much as they enrich the story. The idea of items doing what they are told was marvelous. Talk about a lazy society. No longer did people have to use magic themselves, every item purchased came pre-enchanted to do what it was made to do. And when things go wrong, people find themselves doing things the old fashioned way, manually.
The tale of Hobart Hucklebuck was a cute tale that is perfect for a young reader looking for a magical adventure. Many of the character names, shop names and other town items resembled tongue twisters. Every character’s first and last name starting with the same letter. I can only imagine how long it took Stan Swanson to come up with these names. I found them fun and entertaining.
Misadventures of Hobart Hucklebuck is the perfect summer read for the kid in love with magic and adventure. It is adorable, funny, and is a great tale of friendship and loyalty.
Danielle Young (Consuming Worlds)
My son (9) enjoyed reading this book, many parts aloud. He laughed at several points and said the names were silly (in a good way). I found the story entertaining and written in a way to capture and keep the attention of the young readers. I recommend this to all libraries and households with children of all ages. This makes a great read-out-loud book as well. We both agree this deserves five out of five stars. We received an evaluation copy through Curiosity Quills in exchange for our honest opinion.
Jenn S. (Book Reviews and Giveaways)
There are misadventures. There is mayhem. And there is magic…but not from Hobart Hucklebuck. Poor Hobart, who is as sweet as can be, finds himself to be the least magical in his family, after being dropped off to spend his spring break with his grandfather in Pennywhistle.
It is a very unusual spring break for all of Pennywhistle. Over the course of days, Hobart, his family and his friends notice something very strange is going on in Druid Lane…and in fact, all of Pennywhistle. All of the enchanted items and appliances won’t work. Bread doesn’t magically dance across the counter and pop itself into the toaster, and it surely doesn’t butter itself when it comes out all toasty, either; pepper will give a dash to your dinner plate, but salt obstinately won’t budge; brooms and mops have lost their enchantments and must be used the old-fashioned way. And there has been a strange cat hanging around Druid Lane all of a sudden that Hobart keeps seeing.
Hobart’s grandfather, Wicksford Waxenbee, owns the Hocus Pocus Magic Shop on Druid Lane. It’s a magic shop, and in this magic shop are W..’s old potions and concoctions that went wrong, like Pixie Powder (aka Demon Dust). In one corner of the shop is an old mirror with a huge crack down the middle. This mirror suddenly becomes the interest of two different shop owners on Druid Lane.
Wicksford has several friends among the shop owners on Druid Lane, including his old pal from his potion making days, Beauregard Bladderblott. Hobart learns a lot about his grandfather’s younger days, including the story behind the Pixie Powder, and why his grandfather couldn’t sell it.
There’s one thing about Hobart, besides his non-magical abilities. Hobart is afraid of cats. Like, screech and squeek afraid. He has two friends, Specks and Rosie. Rosie is adventurous and bold, and Specks is a chicken with some good comeback lines. They stick together through good and bad, and when that meanie Pickwick Prattfall gets Rosie stuck to the ceiling in the defunct broom factory, it’s on!
But Pick turns out to not be the bully in this story…his dad is. Turns out his dad has a long-standing beef with Hobart’s grandfather from their days way back at the Bureau of Magic, and now has come Pernacious Prattfall’s collection day. Despite this animosity, Hobart welcome Pick into their gang after some heartfelt words on Prick’s part. That is what sealed the deal for me about Hobart, who stood up to his friends and allowed Pick, who had picked on them, teased them and been an all-around show-off snot to them, into the group.
With his grandfather locked away, Hobart, Specks, Rosie and Pick are on a mission to investigate who is behind this madness in Pennywhistle. Among their top suspects are many of the shopkeepers of Druid Lane, including Wicksford’s best friend, Bladderblott. They start conducting their own investigations and seem to be getting nowhere…until something is stolen from the magic shop and that strange cat seems to know something about it all.
This book was a fantastic read and spoke volumes about friendship and loyalty. A wonderful middle grades book, and right in time as a reminder for the upcoming school year.
Charlie Anderson (Girl of 1000 Wonders)
Welcome to the village of Pennywhistle, where almost everything is enchanted under very strict supervision at the Pennywhistle Amalgamated Enchantment Factory. On command, slices of bread jump into toasters, and when all nice and toasty, they spread themselves with butter and jelly. Lawnmowers mow lawns, mops mop, and cuckoo clocks really go quite cuckoo on the hour. All enchantments however, must be approved by the A.E.I.O.U. (Amalgamated Enchantment Industry’s Organized Union), and ordinary magic is strongly discouraged.
This story’s the tale of Hobart Hucklebuck
Whose enchanted objects began getting stuck
The bread wouldn’t toast and the covers stayed down
Something was amiss in his magical town
The folk from the bureau were very upset
Unauthorized magic was surely a threat
They worried and wondered just who it could be
And blamed the whole thing on Wicksford Waxenbee
Hobart knew that this was a big load of blather
And started to work himself into a lather
He called up his friends for an investigation
To free his grandfather from dire Tribulation
Their search almost ended in certain disaster
`Til he called up a spell that he hoped he could master
To learn how it ends, you must read it to see
`Cos there’s no way that you’re going to hear it from me
Recommended for young readers, who will surely get a thrill from the colorful characters with names like Spacklethack and Rumpleskirt, the weird sounding menu items, and the thrilling action of the penultimate chapter.
Amanda Richards (Amazon)